Aunty needs to look at herself

It’s good to see the BBC licence fee being debated again.

 This time it’s the Tories – no doubt keen to deflect some attention away from their own expense claims – suggesting that efficiencies can be made and that the fee be frozen.

Before I go on, I’ll admit to not being the BBC’s biggest fan. I believe it is too big, often goes too far in stepping on the toes of the independent media, and they once turned me down for a job (to be fair I did call one of the interviewers an elitist, posh school cunt).

More importantly, the BBC as an organisation, like our MPs, has taken the taxpayer for granted.

I do accept and strongly believe that parts of the BBC are very important and need protection. It’s news coverage is vital. Its original programming has clearly raised and kept the standards of our television high.

However, there are many other parts of the corporation which need to be trimmed.

I’d put money on there being a few expense scandals lurking in Aunty’s murky corridors.

Some of those we know already know about seem massively excessive to me.
* £33k a day on taxis.
* £120k on a Christmas party for 2,500 staff.
* £45k on a launch party for Merlin.

Then there are the salaries of its ‘stars’. Would you rather spend £2m a year for Jonathan Ross or support 200 well paid journalists? Ross may attract decent audience figures, but his shows could (and probably would have been) easily be provided by another channels without cost to the tax payer.

Earlier this month we had the startling revelation that news reader Carrie Grace earns £92,000 a year for reading out loud. Ok, she’s an award-winning interviewer (although she handled that expenses one appallingly), but I don’t think it’s a stretch for the Beeb to find some equally talented for half that wage.
Afterall, there are (or were) thousands of talented journalists out there, including huge numbers working for less than £25k or even £20k in the regional press.

The digital channels – do we really need to spend so much on so many when the audience share is so low?

Do we really need regional news websites which steal most of its content from the regional press before cutting them down to a very superficial summary?

And then my real pet hate – the regional BBC radio stations. They offer very similar products to what’s already available commercially. How is it a pubic service to repeat what is already being provided by a non-state funded company?
All they do is take business away from non-state funded companies and deny local firms a platform to advertise.

So particularly in these trying times – the Beeb needs to take a long hard look at how it is spending its money.

But the bits of the BBC which provide genuine public service – in particular its journalism – need protection.

A free press/media is vital to a successful democracy, and it’s incredibly important to have news and issues debated by news organisations with differing political slants. Where we’re lucky in this country is that in the BBC, we have a service which reflects the news agenda from a neutral perspective very well.
It tries incredibly hard to present the facts and various points of views without taking sides and letting the reader make up its own mind, free from the bias of owners or market forces.

So before any cuts are made of the licence fee, the money it spends on its (national) news coverage needs to be secured.

3 Responses to Aunty needs to look at herself

  1. Dave Lee says:

    Interesting points — especially the one about local radio.

    If Radio Cambridgeshire wasn’t around, there would be no local radio of any merit. Do you really consider Q103 and whatever the crap coming from 96.9fm is as good local radio? I sure don’t… they play the same content for a start.

    Radio Cambs is an important part of the community.

  2. Richard Kendall says:

    I agree on the whole, the BBC is vital to broadcasting and news in this country. Agreed the local websites are not anything special, and they very rarely scoop us for Peterborough news. I’m pretty ambivalent about their radio output locally, but i guess it does have a purpose and a remit, public service and all. As for expenses, the Beeb will have skeletons in the closet like any large organisation. It will always be a fine commercial line justifying the licence fee, but keeping the Beeb free of commercial control is vital for the country. Strong words, but imagine no BBC news to turn to, only Sky BREAKING News for local news and a world view.

  3. gingerelvis says:

    I have to admit I don’t curretly listen to Q103 – which I believe is now called Heart – or BBC Cambs. But I have listend to (and appeared on) both in the past

    Being a pompous sort, to me they both appear to play the usual bland middle of the road pop and contain incredibly innane chatter.

    While neither are to my tastes, I couldn’t really see that much difference between the two.

    If I had to listen to one, it would be BBC Cambs.
    But to many the more down-to-earth and frivlous style of Heart is what they want.

    From a personal point, I also have to say that the staff at Heart were much friendlier. And I’d argue that is an important thing for a company which wants to be part of the community.

    From a news point of view, both seemed to steal most of their stories from the local press. Sometimes verbatum.

    To be fair, the Beeb does have the resources to provide better news coverage. It can send reporters out to jobs, even it it is just following up local paper stories, press releases or pre-organised events. And it can draw on stuff from other parts of the corporation.

    But the biggest single reason that BBC Cambs has a bigger share of audience is it doesn’t play adverts.
    I personally don’t think that is a good enough reason to justify it being subsidised by the tax-payer.

    It can do more than Heart as it has more resources, but who is to say that Heart wouldn’t be better if it had some of the BBC audience and therefore a bigger budget.

    Public service broadcasting is very important – but does it really need to massively outspend and compete so unfairly with its commercial rivals when it has none of the financial risks?

    I’d rather see some of the licence fee going to Heart, on condition that they provide some of the service that the BBC does – which in the main would be better news.

    It’s probably very arrogant, but I bet I could also provide a better news service than BBC Cambs does for less money.

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